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Your Library, Your Voice

Let Them Speak

A collection of reading lists on a range of equality and diversity themes.

See Yourself on the Shelf

Protesters hold signs at a trans rights protest. Text reads Let Them Speak: Platforming Transgender Voices.

Let Them Speak: Platforming Transgender Voices

The curation on this page spotlights the work of transgender authors, artists, thinkers and creatives. Including an assortment of mediums and genres, and works that defy categorisation, this reading list provides a glimpse into the unendingly diverse narrative worlds of trans people. Here you shall find stories and accounts spanning a broad variety of topics, written by authors with unique voices who have refused to be pigeonholed into conventional narratives.

Meet the Student Curator

Hi, I'm Tilly! I'm a second-year English Literature student from London, and I'm nonbinary.

I am passionate about the authorial presence and representation of transgender people in popular literature, film, and art, and aim to encourage greater curiosity, understanding and acceptance within the university community.

Image shows a Polaroid portrait by Little Shiva.

Little Shiva, Wigstock 92: Coco c/o Patricia Field,1992, film and ink, 3.4" x 3.2", Flickr. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial, No-Derivatives 2.0 Generic License. 

Why Read Transgender Narratives?

Narratives – told through films, paintings, plays, comic books, and many other forms - shape not only the way we see the world around us, but also how we see ourselves: as a platform for representation, an environment for exploration, and a window into diverse experiences and perspectives.

Mokobe's powerful slam poem bellow exemplifies the revelatory possibilities of transgender storytelling:

Image shows a sculpture by Pippa Garner, of two chairs stacked atop each other and a lamp.

Pippa Garner, Untitled (Bunk Easy Chairs), 1975-2021,
upholstered chairs, wood, ashtray, cigarette, 78" × 33" × 36", Flikr. This image is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License

Why Now?

Platforming transgender voices in our university community is particularly crucial amid a contemporary hike in trans-hate in the UK. There has been an undeniable increase in anti-trans rhetoric and proposed legislation in UK politics within recent years.

Transphobic legislation, political rhetoric and medical inaccessibility has an undeniable impact upon the lives of trans people in the UK. My curation aims to educate, and shine a light of validation upon, the University community amid misinformation and derision.

Hear what trans actor and activist Samy Nour Younes has to say about transgender activism's past, present and future:

Image shows a photographic self portrait by Shane, wearing a suit in the woods.

Shane, Serious Shane portrait, 2020, Canon EOS photograph, 3744 x 5616 pixles, Unsplash. This work is free to use under the Unsplash License


Image shows a magazine collage.Luis Drayton, in context #2, 2009, mixed media collage, 11.7" x 16.5", Flikr. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License.

Reading List

The reading list below is available to anyone, but please note that links to e-resources are only available to students and staff at the University of York. You can also access the list on a separate webpage.

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The Digital Transgender Archive, an online hub of digitised historical materials and archival holdings, aims to increase the accessibility of transgender history. Based in Massachussetts, it is an international collaboration of over 60 universities, organisations and collections. Click here to see the archive.

The National Archive's transgender collection contains records and artefacts from the lives of historical trans figures, such as April Ashley, Fanny and Stella, and Dr James Barry, complete with insightful and informative blogposts. Click here to see the archive.

The Louise Lawrence Transgender Archive, founded and directed by Ms. Bob Davis who has been collected since 1979, is a community-based institution available to the public to preserve transgender history and encourage its study and scholarship. Click here to see the archive.

The GLBT History Society (founded in 1985) collects, preserves, and exhibits materials both online and physically exhibited in their Archives and Research Centre and GLBT Historical Society Museum, in San Fransisco. Click here to see the archive.

The University of York's Borthwick Archives originally specialised in ecclesiastical archives, but over the past three decades it's collection has grown in range and type of holdings. Materials, sources and documents held by the Institute may be used to explore York's transgender history. The University's research guide to LGBTQ+ history aims to uncover the hidden history of LGBTQ+ people, such as Barbara Hill, Anne Lister and Edward Hewiston. Click here to see the archive.

The Transgender Archives at the University of Victoria has been committed, since 2011, to preserving the history of trans people. Their collection comprises the largest trans archive in the world, and is freely accessible to all. Consisting of documents, publications and memorabilia of trans activists and organisations, their records go back over 120 years, including 15 languages, 23 countries and six continents. Check out their digital exhibits here. Click here to see the archive.

Resources and Support

More information and direct support is available via the University of York's LGBTQ+ Sources of Support page.

Image shows Nash Glynn's Self Portrait with One Foot Forward and One Hand Reaching Out

Nash Glynnn, Self Portrait with One Foot Forward and One Hand Reaching Out, 2020 acrylic paint on canvas, 48" x 35" Tate, London.

Copyright © Nash Glynn. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

A Note on Language:

I, and the authors in this list, acknowledge that language matters. Language, with its power to affirm or assault, translates broader socio-cultural realities, and perpetuates them. So, it is important to recognise that terms remain contested: what is considered respectful terminology shifts and changes over time, depending upon contextual factors. Language is both political and personal. This is reflected in the manifold narratives of this list - you may, therefore, encounter authors self-identifying with terms that others reject, or that you find personally challenging. Please look out for language warnings in the 'notes' sections of the reading list, and remain respectful of generational and cultural linguistic differences.

Image shows "Chests" by Matt Storm, a sculpture displaying a leather jacket.

Matt Storm, Chest, 2017, wood, cloth, clothing, 18" x 14.5" x 2.5", Flickr. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License

Genre and Medium:

This reading list is sorted, loosely, by genre and medium for ease of accessibility. However, many works are cross-genre, interdisciplinary, and break the boundaries of genre and form.

Self portrait photograph of Claude Cahun.

Claude Cahun, Self-Portrait, from Bifur, no 5, 1930, photograph, 450 x 600 pixles, Wikimedia Commons. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License.


The issue of history complicates our understanding of trans narratives. This reading list attempts to incorporate multiple approaches to literary and cultural history - most importantly, avoiding the universalisation of identification: not seeking to flatten cultural and historical differences. Querying conventional constructs of historicism, and circumventing the projection of modern terms and concepts upon historical figures, I adopt what theorist Carolyn Dinshaw describes as a "project of constructing queer histories that are constituted by...affective relations across time". This project, therefore, attempts to embrace Alexander Eastwood's call for "accounts of history that are affective, imaginative and closely linked to questions of self-authorship". Works particularly engaging with issues of historical representation and understanding can be found in the reading list's 'Histories' section.

What are Transgender Narratives?

The Stonewall Organisation defines "trans" as an "umbrella term to describe people whose gender is not the same as, or does not sit comfortably with, the sex they were assigned at birth".

My project shall embrace this non-restrictive definition, including works by authors who queer the dominant conceptualisation of gender in endlessly different and unique ways.

This curation shall highlight the voices of those who transverse, transgress and transcend binarizing Western gender norms - aiming to counter the silencing and stereotyping that has suppressed trans voices.

Watch Lee Mokobe's slam poetry performance about the power of their artistic voice:

Sculpture by Young Joon Kwak of human-like, thin skin, with hands.

Young Joon Kwak, Hermaphroditus' Reveal I, 2017, fiberglass cloth, resin, cast resin, gold enamel, 52.5" x 48" x 23", Flikr. Copyright © 2016 - 2023 Young Joon Kwak. All rights reserved. This image is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License

Image of trans rights protesters. Text reads: Photography by Alisdare Hickson. Reproduced under a Creative Commons licence. Photos via Flickr.

See Yourself on the Shelf Information:

Visit the See Yourself on the Shelf page to find out more about our student library curator work.

If you have any questions regarding Platforming Transgender Voices please contact the library at

'See Yourself on the Shelf' used with permission from the University of Kent.